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The federal government is working to reform sick-day policy.
At worst, economic development funds become political slush funds that channel corporate welfare into votes.
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Another week, another weak attempt by the Lower Mainland mayors to pin all the region's problems on the provincial government. Fastballs of problems are flung fast and furious by the city politicians: homelessness, property taxes, TransLink.
We're now three months from the provincial election. The government doesn't seem to want to talk in-depth about BC Hydro, so it will be up to the voters to press it as an issue. What are the parties' plans to get BC Hydro out of debt? How much will they increase our rates? How will they bring costs under control?
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Heading into this month's B.C. budget, Premier Christy Clark is saying all the right things about scrapping the Medical Services Premium (MSP) tax. The B.C. Liberals have been busy pouring water on every smoldering election issue they can find. On and on the list goes, leaving the MSP tax as one of the few big potholes remaining on the road to re-election.
Why is flushing money down the toilet the thing the Capital Regional District board seems to be best at? And how can the municipal politicians and officials charged with building a sewage treatment centre be so oblivious to things that don't pass the smell test? (No pun intended.)
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The largest contract was nearly $600K.
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Despite all the good the FNFTA has done in B.C., members of 23 bands are still waiting to see this year's disclosures, and three are missing two full years. This is basic transparency that every citizen deserves - how does government spend their money, and how much do politicians spend on themselves?
After eight years of British Columbians paying and paying and paying, still no North American jurisdiction has followed B.C.'s lead and brought in a carbon tax. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is now trying to force carbon pricing on the entire country, but several provinces are rightfully resisting.
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"The art of taxation consists in so plucking the goose as to obtain the largest amount of feathers with the least possible amount of hissing." Mayors forgot that axiom last year when they spent millions trying to convince taxpayers to hand over a new sales tax to TransLink -- an agency widely reviled for its wasteful spending.
Leaders have a responsibility to resist their own cynicism and scratch beneath the surface to hear what people -- even those who are opposed -- are saying. What is the core concern driving the speaker? Is it affordability? Safety? Mayors should ask genuine questions of people, and actually listen to their responses
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Robertson's vacancy and Airbnb taxes are a significant stumble down a slippery slope. If these new taxes don't raise the vacancy rate high enough, will he go after unoccupied suites in homes? Empty bedrooms? If private housing is now a social good, with its use essentially controlled through tax and regulation, what's to stop these next steps?
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Robertson wants a 70 per cent cut in natural gas use by 2020, and 90 per cent gone within 10 years. This will cost individual residents thousands of dollars -- and was approved by Robertson and his council without any thought to the affordability crisis in Vancouver.
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In last year's Liberal election platform, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised to legalize marijuana, touting a "new system of strict marijuana sales and distribution, with appropriate federal and provincial excise taxes applied." By leaving out the possibility of city taxes, Trudeau raised the hackles of spend-crazy mayors across the nation. Now the mayors are pushing back -- they want a piece of the green.
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B.C. has become the first foreign government to issue a Masala bond in India. Essentially, B.C. took on $97.5 million in debt and immediately reinvested that money not in B.C. infrastructure or something that would help B.C. taxpayers, but in the Housing Development Finance Corporation (HDFC) Limited of India.
At a time when many B.C. taxpayers are struggling under the weight of their heavy tax burden, growing personal debt, and an incredibly high cost of living, our locally elected officials are there to remind us all of how hopelessly out of touch they are.
The owner of the company canvassed for the minister in the election.
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There's no tax quite as popular as a tax on someone else. But will the people still be on board once the bills come in for collecting the Vancouver vacancy tax, or when the foreign investment tax has to morph to catch the money coming into the country? Or if housing prices are unaffected? Or if housing prices plunge and Canadian homeowners owe more than their home is worth?
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Todd Stone, B.C.'s minister of transportation, has apparently told the Victoria Regional Transit Commission (VRTC) that he will approve their long-standing request for a two cents per litre gas tax hike in the Victoria region. The VRTC wants the tax, which would generate $6.6 million, for bus improvements.
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Same goes for city councillors.
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Progressive economist Jim Stanford invites us to reimagine Bombardier's demand for another taxpayer handout as an exciting opportunity for an "equity investment." In his view, focusing on the usual metrics for businesses -- such as "does the company make money?" or "can it actually sell the products it makes?" -- is evidence of a dangerous affliction he refers to as "market fundamentalism."
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Education Minister David Eggen says the intent is to set an "affordable" tone, given the province's current economic situation.
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A spokesman said it is questionable whether MPs should get $25 million more to spend on expenses.
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The artwork is certainly controversial.
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Road levy. Recreation and culture levy. Transportation for tomorrow tax. Dedicated road tax. Asset levy. Make no mistake: we want our cities to invest in infrastructure. Sewer, water, roads; these are core responsibilities of local government. But repackaging this spending with a new tax is a slap in the face.
All told, the B.C. government cut cheques for $1.5 billion in film subsidies over the past five years. That's more than taxpayers spent on the ministries of aboriginal relations, agriculture and environment -- combined. As if that wasn't enough, the federal government jumped in with $1.73 billion more nation-wide. With the low Canadian dollar attracting more filming here, these subsidies are going to soar even higher in 2016-17, as there are no caps on these payouts.
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The dimming economy is not the only challenge facing Finance Minister Bill Morneau.
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The bipartisan legislative committee was asked by Finance Minister Michael de Jong to travel the province and make recommendations for the 2016-17 B.C. budget. Unfortunately, the committee fell into the usual trap of recommending billions in new spending requests put in by dozens of special interest groups.
"Some people need to be reminded it's the season for giving, not taking.''
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Peter Fassbender hasn't addressed a core concern for hundreds of thousands of taxpayers, expressed during the campaign that sent the TransLink sales tax down to landslide defeat: TransLink is still broken, still lacking the public's confidence.
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Oliver, a British national, took to the CBC radio program The Q to say that both the UK and Canada need a national tax on sugary beverages. He says kids, particularly those who come from underprivileged backgrounds, are growing up living a far too unhealthy lifestyle. Would a tax change that behaviour?
There are tax credits for putting your kids in sports or music lessons, for volunteer firefighting, for taking a bus, for fixing up your kitchen, and for joining a search and rescue team. All worthy things, sure, but expensive for taxpayers. Now we're talking about a leftovers tax credit. Where will this trend end?